Not everyone likes change, and I’m personally not a huge fan. It’s hard to sleep in a hotel room instead of my own bed and pillows. I hate it when a friend moves away.
On the other hand, I like change. It’s fun to be working on re-imagined landscaping for our house. I’m enjoying getting to know the new neighbors down the road who stop to chat when they see me outside.
None of us could have known how much change would come into our lives in the past couple of years. I’m encouraged that Charis Women has managed not only to survive but to thrive in an environment where our perception of what relationships look like has been turned on its head. Our gatherings and classes have been cut back to almost non-existent. Our travel and interactions with others who have traveled feel limited, and somehow, more filled with anxiety.
It’s exciting, though, to look at what changes Charis Women might bring. I see bright leaders getting involved who have a sense of what the upcoming generations need and are willing to make the investment to equip them. I see a willingness to dialogue, to interact with each other in healthy ways that use each person’s unique gifts.
Back in 2020, when I first told the Charis Women board of my plan to retire the summer of 2022, there was no way I could have pictured what that reality would look like. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought being retired would just involve lingering over a cup of coffee before diving into the day’s plans of cleaning out a certain closet or volunteering at the library. A diagnosis of cancer and the craziness of navigating the past six months have led me through a different process as I hand the reins to my successor.
My view of what’s next for Charis Women narrows down to three things I expect will change. I pray this ministry will transition well in that change. However, we also have three values I pray will never change. Will you join me in praying for a healthy transition as we experience needed changes while recognizing when to stand firm in who we are?
Here are some things we can expect to change:
1. Leadership: Who serves as executive director, how the leadership team is developed, and who is on the board will continue to change, with each leader bringing her unique gifting and abilities to that specific time. Praise God for the passion of women willing to invest their hearts in connecting and equipping women for God’s work. Pray not only for our board as they lead, but also for those who are key to the effectiveness of Charis Women but whose service is behind the scenes. They rarely receive the honor they so richly deserve.
2. Measurement of success: There was a time in our churches when the size of the group was usually considered a gauge of its success. While it may be easier, it is neither accurate nor fair. May we instead emphasize the importance of maturing in the fruit of the Spirit and in service for God. May each woman whose life is touched by Charis Women become more committed to walking with the Savior and obeying his command to reach whoever he sends her to serve.
3. The ways we do things: We must continue to take advantage of new opportunities, especially when challenges arise to our current way of doing things. I certainly would not have pictured how it would open doors for beautiful spiritual conversations with sisters around the world, some I’ve never even met in person. Seeing each challenge as an opportunity to accomplish God’s purposes will bring hope and joy to those of us who do not love change.
There are also, however, a few things that really should not change. Here are my personal top three:
1. Our emphasis on God’s Word: Our mission, goals, and responses must be aligned with God’s view of what is important in this world. The day we lose this spotlight into God’s heart is the day the soul of Charis Women dies.
2. Our emphasis on prayer: Consulting with God in prayer is our “navigation tool” that helps us stay on course. Charis Women has a rich heritage of overcoming obstacle after obstacle through faithful prayer. May each generation realize that and step up to stand in the gap.
3. Our relationships: The way we live out God’s purpose as we relate to each other should serve as a testimony and example to the wondering world. Our commitment to healthy, forgiving, edifying relationships is what causes each of us to grow personally as we seek to work together to grow God’s universal Church. May we always relate to each other in a way that honors our Lord.
Although I am officially retiring, I am still a Charis woman. I look forward to participating in events and activities offered through the ministry of Charis Women. I’m also hoping for opportunities to give back to this organization that has had a crucial role in my development as God’s daughter.
It has been a blessing to serve for the past 18 years with such a valuable ministry. Thank you for your encouragement and support. I see God doing great things through Charis Women. I want to invite you to support the future of this organization in two ways. First, join me in praying for the ongoing, and growing, ministry of Charis Women. Secondly, make a financial gift here. Your investment will make an eternal impact in the lives of women across the country.
A version of this story originally appeared in a newsletter from Charis Women, written by Viki Rife. Find more info about the organization on their website here.